Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 18:39 UK

Yemeni troops 'kill 100 rebels'

Ruined buildings
This image, released by the rebels, purports to show the result of bombing

Yemeni troops carrying out an offensive against Shia rebels in the north of the country claim to have killed more than 100 fighters, including two leaders.

The operation, involving air strikes, artillery and tanks, began two weeks ago, aimed at crushing the rebels and recapturing the town of Harf Sufyan.

The rebels deny their leaders, Mohsen Saleh Gawd and Salah Jorman, have been killed and say civilians have died.

There has been no independent confirmation of the numbers killed.

A government statement said: "The bodies of more than 100 rebels have been recovered from the roadside outside the town of Harf Sufyan.

"It seems that the bodies were those of rebels trying to flee the town during a mopping-up operation over the past two days."

The statement added that security forces had succeeded in "totally purging the town of rebel elements in the past two days, forcing the rebels to surrender or flee".

The rebels, from the Zaidi Shia sect, want the restoration of Shia rule in the north of Yemen, which is mainly Sunni.

Yemen's president has accused the rebels of trying to overthrow the government.

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